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Environmental Articles

Brownfield Regulation

One of the biggest and most unwanted surprises a new business can get is to find out that they just built their new factory on a spot that had been used decades earlier to dispose of hazardous materials. The way many environmental laws are written, it wouldn't matter that the new business had nothing to do with the contamination; it would be legally required to clean it up. It is for this reason that the thought of purposely building on sites with lurking environmental issues is difficult to imagine. However, the reuse or recycling of these areas for industrial space has become not only an important tool in the preservation of green spaces, but in containment of urban sprawl.

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Claims against the Government

Environmental torts involve personal injuries or property damage caused by exposure to toxic and other dangerous substances, forms of energy, and devices present in the environment. Sometimes, the responsible party in an environmental tort case is a governmental entity. Certain laws and legal concepts, referred to as "sovereign immunity," protect the government from being sued or provide strict rules for bringing lawsuits against the government. One of these laws is the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which relates to all tort claims brought against United States governmental entities. States have similar laws, as do some cities and counties. Accordingly, an experienced environmental tort lawyer is essential when considering an environmental tort claim against any branch of the government in order to ensure that all legal requirements are met and the claim proceeds.

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Environmental Law Case Summaries

[12/05] Monterey Coastkeeper v. Monterey County Water Resources Agency
Reversing a judgment granting the petition for writ of mandate in the case of a nonprofit organization alleging that the Monterey County Water Resources Agency had violated the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act by failing to report waste discharge with respect to agricultural pollutants in a ditch and drain system because the nonprofit failed to exhaust its administrative remedies.

[12/04] Evans v. US
Affirming the dismissal of a case in which a man complained about the destruction of his shade trees by the government, seeking to contain a beetle infestation, because the act qualified for sovereign immunity under the discretionary function exception.

[12/04] Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Affirming the judgment on an appeal from the post-remand judgment of a case involving highly contested proposed development plans because the Public Resources Code does not prohibit partial decertification of an environmental impact report, nor does it prohibit leaving project approvals in place while decertifying a report..

[12/04] Navajo Nation v. Department of the Interior
Affirming in part and reversing in part the district court's dismissal of a Navajo Nation complaint and motion for relief challenging the Department of the Interior's published guidelines clarifying how it would make shortage and surplus determinations used in relation to decisions to deliver water from the Colorado River to Western states, affirming the dismissal of claims for lack of Article III standing because it wasn't reasonably probable that the guidelines would threaten the Nation's rights, but remanding breach of trust claims because they were not barred by sovereign immunity.

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